“I think it is an innate quality that Indians have to dance. They dance when they are happy, they dance when they are sad. They dance when they get married, they dance when someone dies.”—Maria Tallchief
Maria Tallchief (1925-2013) was a Native American ballerina. In a field dominated by Russian dancers, Maria danced her way through racial and cultural barriers to become one of the country’s leading ballerinas from the 1940 to 1960s —and one of the only Native Americans She became America’s first prima ballerina at the New York City Ballet, and held that title for 13 years, touring the world and becoming an international star. When she was older, she turned to teaching, founding and becoming artistic director of the Chicago City Ballet. She was widely praised through her life for her precision and musicality, something that she always attributed to her Osage heritage.